Sunday, 20 April 2014

A similar day but better pics

The Safari was delving into the moth trap with excitement this morning as we'd been able to use the big light last night, we got a slightly better catch than of recent was five Hebrew Characters showing their variety in shades and sizes and a rather pale Common Quaker but maybe the usual black CFL would have pulled these in too.

the nature reserve not quiet as early as yesterday but the morning was less windy and much warmer, consequently the birdsong was much more in evidence. As soon as we left the Land Rover and went through the gate we spotted this lovely male Reed Bunting pulling seeds out of the fluffbombs that are the heads of the Greater Reedmace against the low sun the scene was very dramatic - a stunning way to start the day.
Wandering on we enjoyed the songs of Lesser Whitethroat at the allotments and normal Whitethroats in the Brambles and Hawthorns a little further on. Blackcaps, Chiffchaffs and Blackbirds added to the morning music.
The track leading to thee old cabins had a few small birds 'feeding' on grit at the side of the path, we put the bins on them to reveal they were a pair of Chaffinches and a pair of Linnets. There seem to be a few more Linnets around this year which is good to see. We tried to sneak up on them but they flushed so we were pleased to have fired off a few shots a minute or so earlier.
Inside the reserve we soon heard the reel of the Grasshopper Warbler but could we see it!!! The 'inland' Cetti's Warbler was vocal again but once again unseen. Notable by their absence were Willow Warblers.
In the 'Paddock' there was a real unusual sight, a pair of Grey Lag Geese, never seen them in there before...bizarre.
While we tried to get a bead on the Cetti's a male Linnet landed at the top of a nearby tree and began to sing.
Slightly over-processed - sorry, it was a fraction out of effective range.
Down where the Bee Orchids are we spotted a Puffball lurking in the grass.
Another 'inland' Cetti's, the one we so unsuccessfully photographed yesterday was blasting out at full volume but like the earlier one we couldn't get to grips with it today until it flew across the path in front of us and straight into deep cover.
Our second 'usual' Grasshopper Warbler wasn't performing today, has it moved on?
A 'new' Sedge Warbler sang enthusiastically but there was nothing from the Reed Warblers this morning. Whilst looking to see if we could get a look at said Sedgy we saw a large green leaf taller than the growing reeds, Water Dock - wow not common up this way. A look in THE book later showed no local records! We think it might have appeared in response to the recent-ish reedbed dredging works disturbing the seedbank.
Behind us the gulls went up from the fields in a raucous clamour, something had spooked them. Found it, nothing exciting just yet another helium balloon sailing on the wind on its way to becoming litter somewhere.
Another Cetti's Warbler gave much better views but all too easily evaded the lens. By the time we got all the way round we'd had a definite seven and maybe eight singing males!
A second round of the reserve mid-afternoon after the rain didn't give us the hoped for dropped migrant, in fact it was much quieter than the morning traipse.
Another great day on safari draws to a close.
Where to next? Mothy is on again. Up north tomorrow but maybe more boozin than wildlifin but there's  always something to see if you keep your eyes peeled.
In the meantime let us know who was in the most unlikely place in your outback.

Saturday, 19 April 2014

A good day for bad pics

The Safari has been to the nature reserve twice today 06.15 the 17.00.
Neither visit gave us anything out of the ordinary although the Barn Owl early morning was nice.
If you can guess what these are you're doing well.
 'Bum' shot of a white splurge
Mostly hidden rown blob
You should get this one
Out of focus ale brown blob
One or the other with camera shake
Don't know what went wrong, just couldn't get subject, brain and camera to act as a cohesive unit today despite the excellent light.
Couldn't get anywhere near the Grasshopper Warbler despite it reeling seemingly inches from us. Whilst chatting to long lost friend PL, good to see him back in circulation, the gulls went up right high and we picked up a brownish one even higher than the others gliding steady north rather than circling round...was it a gull or something broader winged - too far away for anything like a guess.
Spent part of the afternoon deleting Woodpigeons, Blackbirds and Cats from the stealth-cam, sadly no Foxes, Pumas, Hedgehogs or Caribou wandered through the garden at Base Camp this week.
Our evening visit to the nature reserve gave us our first Small White of the season.
Where to next? More of the same but with better pics hopefully.
In the meantime let us know who effectively avoided the lens in your outback.

Friday, 18 April 2014

Jumping through hoops

The Safari has had the kids and their little ones to stay so we've not done as much wildlifing as we might have done.
Yesterday we had a a cold walk round the nature reserve wit them where we had Whitethroat (138 MMLNR #80) and Grasshopper Warbler (139, MMLNR #81) for our year list. Only to be expected at this time of year bit we still missed Wheatear, is this going to be a bad year dip for the site?
After tea we set off with LCV to a farmland area in wich a mown garden was playing host to a Hoopoe, it's a while since we've seen a British one and being so close not to be sniffed at.
It was a lovely evening, Curlews bubbled in the fields, Brown Hares hopped about the fields and a Kestrel hovered over the long grass in the field nest to the garden eventually capturing a vole. It was just about sunset by now so our shots were a tad 'artistic'.
We had a day on the beach with the little ones and found them Sand Gobies and Brown Shrimps to put them. With LCV we watched out for Harbour Porpoises on the very calm sea to no avail but we did find a Grey Seal in the end and watched a flock of about 10 Sandwich Terns diving for fish.
After they'd left for home we went back out to Hoopoe-Land but missed it this time by a matter of minutes. Nice to see more Swallows about than yesterdcay though.
Where to next? Maybe a very early visit to the nature reserve but will it be third time lucky?
In the meantime let us know who's gracing the mown lawns in your outback. 

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Very quick update for you

The Safari has been and still is busy but we have been able to get out a bit over the last couple of days.
A morning watch on Patch 2 gave us the long awaited Sandwich Terns (132, P2 #48), a bonus Arctic Skua (133, P2 #49) and one we didn't realise we'd not had yet this year a passing Lesser Redpoll (134, P2 #50).
Later we did a Porpoise and Seal watch for families to join in and saw not a lot but we did get a Harbour Porpoise and a Grey Seal along with good views of drake Eiders, a Guillemot and a Sandwich Tern catching a fish, the families enjoyed the session too which is always good.
A Great Crested Newt hunt on the way home was unsuccessful though.
This morning we did a guided walk round the nature reserve in lovely sunshine but an increasingly chilly wind. Missed a couple of sitters but did rack up Sedge Warbler (135, MMLNR #77), Lesser Whitethroat (136 MMLNR #78) and Reed Warbler (137, MMLNR #79). The Reed and Sedge being fresh overnight arrivals, we found the Sedge but were beaten to the Reed by regular birder TS.
There were plenty of Small Tortoiseshell  and Peacock butterflies out in the sunshine.

No Orange Tips on the Cuckoo Flower yet
Where to next? Got the kids staying but we'll be out somewher with them tomorrow
In the meantime let us know who's fresh in in your outback.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Cor that was flippin freezinn

The Safari didn't put the moth trap out after all last night, it was far to windy and the wind was too cold!
We did nothing all morning until we set off to see if we could find some Great Crested Newts, not seen any yet this year. Driving down the lane we saw that the nearest car parking area was full so we had too turn round and leave, the site is too far from the other parking area for Frank to walk now.
Nothing for it but to head for the nature reserve instead.
There we met up with a few friends who had been round already and not seen too much, that cold wind was keeping everything low and the westerlyness of it had prevented any new stuff coming in overnight.
They went their way and we unlocked the hide, not often we're first in there. The waterfowl have now all but gone and we struggled to find anything more interesting than two male Teal and a drake Shoveler. The Coots are always entertaining at this time of year with there constant bickering and battling.
The gulls didn't provide anything out of the ordinary, best was this fading first winter Common Gull.
A first summer Black Headed Gull took its place after a short while
A Sparrowhawk drifted over them causing a bit of a panic and while we were watching that we picked up a few Sand Martins. No Swallows with them though. A Cetti's Warbler blasted out to our right, apparently one of seven or more singing this morning according to another birder who'd come in to the hide. A Willow Warbler (MMLNR #74) tried a little quiet song but it was really half-hearted.
Sand Martin flocks drifted in and out and eventually one such flock held a few Swallows (MMLNR #75). 
A wander up the bank gave us a bit of a shock, we had hoped to get some more pics of the Snakeshead Fritillaries as more should have been open but where had they all gone??? We bunked in to find a well worn path and dog footprints on the meadow, not a good sign. We found one broken Frit...nibbled but by what, Slugs or Rabbits but who ever it was it was a nightmare. Good to see the Cowslips doing well though and there's going to be a fine show of Agrimony if there is such a thing - it's not particularly showy as wildflowers go. One thing we've not noticed before but must have been present for a couple of years at least was a huge Meadowsweet patch. Doesn't look to be so much Meadow Cranesbill this season but this small meadow is starting look good mind you it's taken well over a decade and it's being invaded by hard to get rid of Common Reed and there are still too many Nettles.
A Blackcap tried to sing as did another Willow Warbler but the by were beaten by the wind.
Going back to the hide we saw more Sand Martins and Swallows and then MJ called out House Martin (131, MMLNR #76) and we were on it like a flash, our favoruite of the three summer swallows.
The gulls went up a couple more times both both times it was a one of thsae and not anything more exciting.
All too soon Frank was pooped, well he's found a ball and demanded to play but he's not really up to that anymore so we took him home and lit the fire to help stop him getting too stiff...poor old boy!
Where to next? Back to Patch 2 tomorrow and the invisible Sandwich Terns... not that many seen round here yet, they're getting very late.

In the meantime let us know who's been nibbling the exotic vegetables in your outback.

Saturday, 12 April 2014

A bit better on the moff front

The Safari was out before sunrise this morning along the North Blackpool Pond Trail on our last ever Winter Thrushes survey. The world had the fresh green cast of unfurling leaves but the birdsong was still only made up of resident birds though with Blackbirds, Woodpigeons, Collared |Doves, Dunnocks, Robins, Wrens, Chaffinches, Greenfinches, Goldfinches, Blue Tits and Great Tits so it still smacked of winter out there.
A few opening flowers of Bluebells, native, Spanish and hybrids made it a little more springlike and it was reasonably mild for the time of year at about 10C. A few heads of Hedge Garlic were coming out too, bring on the Orange Tip butterflies!
A little further along it sounded a bit more summery with Blackcap and Chiffchaff singing away at the Community Orchard as we neared our survey's starting point. 
The second bird on our survey was a singing Song Thrush giving it plenty a hundred yards further on, this was the only one we heard, indeed it was the only thrush that wasn't a Blackbird and they were down a bit on recent visits probably because half of them might well be sat on nests. Or maybe not as we saw a female carrying a huge long strand of grass in to the hedge by the long ditch.
Thrush action was interrupted by four Cormorants flying north at height. We thought they might drop on to the nearby lake but they kept going straight on, unlike us who broke off the survey route for a few minutes and did visit the lake where in the scrub we heard the liquid cadences of three Willow Warblers (130), two days earlier than last year but about the average date for us for this species but they have been in awhile and we haven't had the chance to get near any.
On the islands a Heron was attending to it's well grown youngster in the first nest while in the other the adult was hunkered well down.
The only notable thing about the second part of the survey was notable for the wrong reason, few Blackbirds but freakin shed loads of cats, they were everywhere!
In the end we only had 23 Blackbirds and the aforementioned Song Thrush on the tally sheet.
Once back at Base Camp we opened the moth trap to find a small number lurking within...whoopy-do - success.
Well it wasn't that brilliant just two Hebrew Characters, a Common Quaker and an Early Grey, nothing over exciting but the Early Grey didn't appear last year so it was nice to get reacquainted with one.
Common Quaker
Early Grey
Hebrew Character
In the garden a bit later doing some chores we heard an 'alba' Wagtail go over, there's a few Whites about at the mo but we'll have to track them down on the ground no chance of IDing an overflying bird.
A flying visit for a brew and drop off some firewood from his current job by our Extreme Photographer saw us in the garden again. We noticed that a chunk of wood had fallen at the back of the woodstore and we footled it out only to see a freshly deceased moth on it - had we just deceased it, hope not - a quick check - well you have to don't you - revealed it as a male Bee Moth, thought these were a summer species mid-April seems a bit early for one to be out and about, it's not been that warm has it? There is a Tree Bee nest just above where we found it - coincidence or not??? They larvae live in the nests of bees eating the waxy cocoons.
A quick trip with Frank to Magpie wood mid-afternoon gave us a nice selection of songsters at the golden Triangle, Woodpigeon, Robin, Wren, Dunnock, Blackcap, and Chiffchaff. They all went a bit quiet when Sparrowhawk lashed through.
In sports news the mighty Blues Everton scored their winner at the same moment as the lowly 'Pool conceded their second, Europe for one perhaps relegation looms frighteningly large for the other.
Where to next? Moffy will be out again tonight.
In the meantime let us know who's brought the summer with them in your outback.

Friday, 11 April 2014

Thrifty? Us?

The Safari was promised a Swallow today, we were hoping it would turn up on Patch 2 as we've not had one here yet. We've only had one so far this year so that does not a summer make but there'll be plenty next week hopefully seeing as how they are one of the countries most widespread species and have increased by over 30% since 1994.
A Small Tortoiseshell butterfly flittered through the work's garden, the first butterfly we;ve seen here we've been able to identify this season and we've been able to enter it on the new Butterfly Recording App very easily so if you have one of those new fangled smarty phones download it now and get recording - it's free too.
Our beach clean today was a disaster - no-one turned up which isn't good particularly as there were loads of people milling around enjoying the warm spring sunshine, shame they didn't feel the responsibility to help clean up the towns best resource. But as we were putting the unused kit away we spotted the first of the Thrift flowers of the year. We had a superb show of these along the front of the building until one time we were off sick and a crew came down thought they were weedy grass and dug most of them up...dohhhh modern day landscape 'gardeners' don't you just luv em
The big question is will we ever find Thrift Clearwing moths along this stretch of coast? Could be tricky as they've not been recorded here before - - if you don't look you deffo won't find that's for sure.
No sign of any promised Swallows even though we stayed half an hour longer than normal - on a Friday!!! - and the sea was as dead as a graveyard so still no Sandwich Terns for us - maybe next week.
Where to next? Our last Winter Thrushes survey tomorrow and maybe something or somewhere else.
In the meantime let us know who's getting in on the apps in your outback.